United States anesthesiologists over 50: retirement decision making and workforce implications.

Fredrick K. Orkin, Sandra L. McGinnis, Gaetano J. Forte, Mary Dale Peterson, Armin Schubert, Jonathan D. Katz, Arnold J. Berry, Norman A. Cohen, Robert S. Holzman, Stephen H. Jackson, Donald E. Martin, Joseph M. Garfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Anesthesiology is among the medical specialties expected to have physician shortage. With little known about older anesthesiologists' work effort and retirement decision making, the American Society of Anesthesiologists participated in a 2006 national survey of physicians aged 50-79 yr. Samples of anesthesiologists and other specialists completed a survey of work activities, professional satisfaction, self-defined health and financial status, retirement plans and perspectives, and demographics. A complex survey design enabled adjustments for sampling and response-rate biases so that respondents' characteristics resembled those in the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile. Retirement decision making was modeled with multivariable ordinal logistic regression. Life-table analysis provided a forecast of likely clinical workforce trends over an ensuing 30 yr. Anesthesiologists (N = 3,222; response rate = 37%) reported a mean work week of 49.4 h and a mean retirement age of 62.7 yr, both values similar to those of other older physicians. Work week decreased with age, and part-time work increased. Women worked a shorter work week (mean, 47.9 vs. 49.7 h, P = 0.024), partly due to greater part-time work (20.2 vs. 13.1%, P value less than 0.001). Relative importance of factors reported among those leaving patient care differed by age cohort, subspecialty, and work status. Poor health was cited by 64% of anesthesiologists retiring in their 50s as compared with 43% of those retiring later (P = 0.039). This survey lends support for greater attention to potentially modifiable factors, such as workplace wellness and professional satisfaction, to prevent premature retirement. The growing trend in part-time work deserves further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-963
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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